LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The union representing thousands of UPS drivers across the country is pushing back on the company’s plan to hire people to deliver packages using their personal vehicles during this year’s busy holiday season.
In a Sept. 1 letter to UPS, the Teamsters National UPS Negotiating Committee said it rejects “in the strongest possible terms” a June 30 proposal by the company to create a new class of job for seasonal delivery drivers using their personal vehicles.
The union warned the company against attempting to “establish a parallel work force to which it can divert” work reserved for union-represented employees under UPS’ labor contract with the Teamsters.
“(W)e have no intention of permitting the company to utilize seasonal employees to transport ground packages in their own vehicles,” Sean O’Brien, director of the Teamsters’ national package division, said in the letter, which the union posted to its website on Tuesday.
In a one-sentence statement, UPS said it “takes exception” with some of O’Brien’s claims, but the company did not elaborate.
“(W)e certainly intend to abide by the terms of the (labor contract) and will use the appropriate dispute resolution process in the event of differences in interpretation,” the company said.
UPS spokesman Jim Mayer declined to respond to any additional questions, including whether the company currently employs drivers using their own vehicles and how long the practice has been in place.
Kara Deniz, a spokeswoman for Teamsters’ package division, which includes about 250,000 UPS employees nationwide, said she understands UPS has not previously used drivers providing their own vehicles.
Deniz noted that the Teamsters and UPS are gearing up to negotiate an extension to their five-year labor contract, which expires July 31, 2018.
“It’s not uncommon that UPS would try to make some issues before bargaining,” she said.
The company would require workers to wear UPS uniforms and deliver packages fulltime, generally from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., during the peak season, according to the ads.
The ads say the personal vehicles must meet standards including not having “low rider suspensions, oversized rims, aftermarket blacked out windows, other company’s logos or markings, and must be free of bumper stickers, political stickers, offensive markings etc.”
Deniz said the idea of hiring personal drivers may represent UPS’ attempt at capitalizing on what she called the “gig-ification” of the economy with flexible, on-demand workers.
Amazon.com, one of UPS’ biggest customers, started hiring on-demand drivers to deliver packages in some of its markets in 2015, a service known as Amazon Flex.
But UPS is “a very regimented, very tightly run” organization, and drivers using their own cars to deliver packages would detract from the company’s professionalism, Deniz said.
It would not be the first time Atlanta-based UPS has experimented with different ways to deliver packages.
Earlier this year UPS persuaded the Kentucky legislature, over the objection of the Teamsters, to change state law to permit packages to be delivered using modified golf carts.
And the company said in February that it was experimenting with drones that would make drop packages on doorsteps and then return to their UPS vehicle.